From Unruly Girls to Effeminate Boys
The Reclaiming of Girls’ Education Discourses in Malala Yousafzai’s Autobiography
The cause of girls’ education in developing countries has received unprecedented attention from international organizations, politicians, transnational corporations, and the media in recent years. Much has been written about the ways in which these seemingly emancipatory campaigns reproduce historical discourses that portray women in former colonies as in need of rescue by the West. However, to date little has been written about the ways in which young women’s and girls’ education activists represent themselves. In this article I analyze I Am Malala, the autobiography of Pakistani girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai, written for her own age group. Using a feminist, poststructuralist approach to discourse analysis, it considers the way in which Yousafzai negotiates and challenges discourses around young women, Pakistan, and Islam. I conclude that a truly emancipatory understanding of girls’ rights would look not to the words and policies of powerful organizations but, rather, to young women themselves.
Theorizing Boys’ Literacies and Boys’ Literatures in Contemporary Times
Garth Stahl and Cynthia Brock
This special issue of Boyhood Studies, entitled “Contemporary Boys’ Literacies and Boys’ Literatures,” is composed of international cutting-edge research focused on boys’ formal and informal literacy practices, boys’ engagements with a variety of texts, as well as gender-focused/gender-critical teaching practices in the literacy classroom. The articles interrogate how boys are positioned and how they position themselves within their acquisition of literacy skills. The research presented highlights the diversity and complexity of boys’ literacy practices. The scholars contend that how we define literacy is undergoing change alongside significant alterations to traditional cultural practices associated with boyhood. We see attention drawn to how these literacy practices operate in relation to the formation of boys’ masculinities in terms of how they do boyhood in contemporary times.
Recently, the field of girlhood studies has witnessed a growing body of research into girls’ self-representation practices, but disabled girls are largely absent from this work. In this article, I intervene in this area by asserting the need to explore how disabled girls represent themselves online in order to consider the intersections between girlhood and disability. I attempt to move away from discourses of risk that circulate around girls’ digital self-representation practices by demonstrating how these practices provide disabled girls with visibility in a postfeminist mediascape that renders them invisible, and also act as a form of social advocacy and awareness raising. I then explore how disabled girls represent themselves online in a postfeminist cultural landscape through a case study of a severely sight-impaired blogger, looking at how they must be seen as both motivated and motivational.
Community Engineering for Sexual Assault Prevention
Day Greenberg and Angela Calabrese Barton
This article explores the efforts of two girls to use STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) knowledge and practice to empower themselves and their peers amid threats of sexual violence against them. Drawing on the feminist construct of intersectionality and social practice theory, we examine how these girls called on intersecting knowledge, practices, people, and scales of activity (different scopes of action) to reclaim space, voice, and peace in the face of violence and fear, scaffolded by adults who became their partners for change.
Girls and Technologies of Nonviolence
Chloe Krystyna Garcia and Ayesha Vemuri
Sexual violence continues to be normalized in modern society through heterosexist jokes and problematic portrayals of female sexuality. A number of young female activists use YouTube as a technology of nonviolence to share their thoughts about rape culture and how it can be transformed. We performed a thematic analysis of 10 videos produced by young women and girls to investigate what they identify as rape culture and how they use videos to communicate their messages. We argue that they offer meaningful insight into the institutions that contribute to the normalization of sexual violence, including schools and universities, the media, and legal and political systems. We believe that stakeholders interested in dismantling rape culture can use these videos to educate themselves and others about the concerns voiced by women and girls, who are, arguably, the population most affected by sexual violence.
Laurel Hart, Pamela Lamb, and Joshua Cader
Effectively engaging with technologies of nonviolence for girls and young women requires attention to systemic, symbolic, and everyday forms of violence online and offline, as well as to how power is broadly manifest. We draw from three different interdisciplinary perspectives and critical reflections to consider networked technologies and online communities in relation to nonviolence. We explore mentorship and subversive education through novel, The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, identity politics on Facebook in a reflective study of digital citizenship for queer girl visibility, and online grassroots community solutions in considering the social potential of online forums and solutions for online harassment. Our varied perspectives encounter contradictions, such as the need for access to and protection from diverse online communities, as a necessary consideration for developing policy and creating networked and community-based technologies of nonviolence. We conclude with five recommendations in a call to action.
Dustin William Louie
In this article, based on research I conducted in Western Canada, I discuss the significance of the emerging influence of social media on the overrepresentation of Indigenous girls in sexually exploitative situations. In interviews I conducted with Indigenous sexual exploitation survivors and intervention staff I found that social media is being used to recruit Indigenous girls and keep them exploited in three distinct ways: targeting girls in reserve communities and luring them to the city; setting up so-called dates to keep them off the streets; and facilitating constant communication between the victim and victimizer, thus ensuring that girls are perpetually active and reachable. I respond to these by outlining educational possibilities in order to combat the exposure of these girls to predators on social media sites.